Thursday, February 29, 2024

Former Archbishop Aupetit: France "has become a totalitarian state"

Guaranteed "freedom to terminate a pregnancy" will soon be part of France's constitution. 

After the Senate voted in favour of President Emmanuel Macron's project on Wednesday evening, both chambers of parliament have now given the green light. 

They must now approve it again on Monday in a joint session with a majority of 60 per cent.

At the end of October, Macron promised to enshrine a "right to abortion" in the constitution. Experts consider the current wording of a "guaranteed freedom to abort" to be legally weaker. 

According to surveys, 86 per cent of French people are in favour of a complete liberalisation of abortion. Opponents of abortion condemned the new regulation. 

Former Parisian archbishop, bioethicist and doctor Michel Aupetit tweeted: "The law imposes the conscience to kill." France has reached a low point. "It has become a totalitarian state."

Abortion under certain conditions has been legal in France since the 1970s. The "Neuwirth" law of 1967 and the "Veil" law of 1975 abolished the total ban ("Law of 1920"). 

Since 1967, French women have been allowed to take the pill; in 1975, abortions up to the 10th week, and since 2020 up to a maximum of 14 weeks, have been exempt from punishment.

"Abortion must remain the exception"

Simone Veil (1927-2017), then Minister for Family Affairs and Auschwitz survivor, emphasised in the parliamentary debate in November 1974: "I say with all my conviction: Abortion must remain the exception, the last resort for hopeless situations. But how can we tolerate abortion without it losing its exceptional character; without society seeming to promote it?"

In autumn 2020, following heated debates, the National Assembly extended the time limit for abortions from 12 to 14 weeks. 

Since 2001, an annual average of around 230,000 abortions have been carried out in France, around a quarter of them outside of hospitals. Around one in four pregnancies is terminated as a result. The use of abortion drugs at home is permitted up to the seventh week.

At the time, those in favour of extending the time limit argued that many pregnant women were currently going to Spain, the UK or the Netherlands, where abortions are permitted up to 22 weeks. 

Furthermore, only around three per cent of gynaecologists and midwives in the country currently performed abortions themselves. 

As a result, there are long waiting times, which ultimately make abortions no longer legally possible.